Monday, May 28, 2007

Goodbye, Dad

Weisbard, Ralph M.
Ralph M. Weisbard died on Friday, May 18, 2007, after an extended illness.

Ralph was born on Nov. 7, 1920, in New York City, the son of Irving and Sadie (Cohen) Weisbard. Growing up in a working-class family (his father was a milkman and grocery worker) during the Depression, he lived in numerous apartments in Brooklyn and Manhattan and in Elizabeth, New Jersey. (His uncle, the celebrated Cantor Yossele Rosenblatt, who had been scheduled to officiate at Ralph's bar mitzvah in 1933, died during a visit to Palestine some months earlier.)

Ralph worked as a civilian at the Brooklyn Navy Yard during the early years of World War II, where he met (and worked under the supervision of) Ruth O. He repeatedly attempted to enlist for military service, but was turned down on medical grounds. He then secretly sought the aid of a physician to treat him and help camouflage his condition, also hiding this surreptitious activity from his mother, who, had she known, probably would have killed him before he met the enemy. He then asked to be reclassified as draft-eligible and entered the army.

Following eventful training as a bespectacled, flat-footed New York Jew at Camp Shelby in Mississippi, he was assigned to the combat infantry ("so he could see the enemy") and sent, as he had desired, to the European theater to fight Hitler. He served heroically with the Seventh Armored Division at the Battle of the Bulge and moved with the lead units into and across Germany during the final year of the War. He was awarded the Silver Star, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, and other decorations for his valor.

During his time in uniform, he maintained an active correspondence with Ruth. A friendly relationship blossomed into a romance, and they married on his return from the War.

Ralph completed a degree in accounting at NYU and soon thereafter moved with Ruth to Miami, where they began a family. Ralph joined the Miami accounting firm of Weber Thomson and Lefcourt (which subsequently merged into the national firm of Laventhol and Horwath), becoming a CPA and serving as partner until his retirement in the mid-1970s.

Ralph took great pleasure in being with people (including many relatives from the New York area who visited and sometimes retired to Miami Beach and surrounding communities). He enjoyed a variety of athletic activities, including league bowling, tennis, and especially golf. He participated in a number of veterans, Masonic and Jewish activities. He was also a lively story-teller, taking particular pride in recounting episodes of standing up to anti-Semitic provocations during his school years and army service, particularly during his army training in Mississippi. Ralph was proud to be a Jew and an American, and exemplified the promise of American life.

Ralph was a devoted husband and loving father and grandfather, who encouraged and supported the education of his children and grandchildren. He is survived by his wife of nearly 61 years, Ruth (O.); by three children, Alan (Phyllis) of Madison, Marshall (and Donna Rosenblum) of Santa Fe, N.M., and Cheryl Weisbard (Dr. Steven) Foung of Palo Alto, Calif.; by four grandchildren...and two step-grandchildren..., and by sisters, Yvette W. Fields and Helene W. Moldan. Ralph will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery on May 29, 2007. Shiva at the Weisbard home on Sunday, June 3, 2007.

Contributions in Ralph's memory may be made to the Holman Weisbard Fund for Adult Jewish Learning at Beth Israel Center in Madison, WI , to the UW Center for Patient Partnerships, to hospice, or to another charity of your choice.

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